Article

Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 119-135

Changing ideas about family care for the elderly in Japan

  • Kathryn Sabrena ElliottAffiliated withMedical Anthropology Program, University of California, San Francisco
  • , Ruth CampbellAffiliated withTurner Geriatric Services, The University of Michigan

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Abstract

As rapid social changes occur around the world, accompanied by increasingly larger numbers of elderly in need of care, it is crucial to gain new knowledge of the relationship between changing social institutions and the impact of such changes on the context in which care is given to the elderly.

In Japan, the family has tradiditnally been the context in which caregiving occurs. Although family care still remains central, 22 focus groups conducted in Tokyo in 1982 and 1990 with three different age groups (N=175) reflect the significant changes which are occurring in the traditional Japanese family system-despite important continuities-and the manner in which these changes are influencing the Japanese approach to care for the elderly.

In this article, we focus on material, instrumental, and emotional reciprocity among adult generations within the Japanese family. Our data suggest that families mix traditional options with newer ones in providing care to their elders.

Key Words

Japanese family system intergenerational reciprocity inheritance changing cultural frameworks focus group methodology